The Joy of Delivering Gloves to MLB Ballplayers
The joy of receiving a brand-new glove never gets old. “They are like little kids,” said Ryan Smith, Wilson product line manager for ball gloves. “It could be the last guy on the minor league camp roster or the reigning MLB MVP, they all have the same reaction. They are so excited to get new gloves.”
Smith said the best part of his job comes during Wilson’s Glove Day, where he delivers the brand-new gloves to each of the contracted Wilson players, sometimes fully customized versions. “To see the smile and joy they all have and that connection,” he said. “Baseball players have connection to equipment, but there is no bigger connection than with their glove. There is glove love. You can’t spell glove without L-O-V-E.”
Smith said that often players will order the same glove year over year because they know what they like and what works for them. Others like to mix it up. All along the way Smith uses Glove Day as a chance to learn about new ideas. Some of this season’s Major League customizations may even make its way into the mainline product for the 2020 launch season, which will debut in fall 2019.
While Smith didn’t want to divulge any of the technical makeups of his top players, he did say that he is seeing a trend in players getting flashier with colors than in the past. But even with the flashy, often a player will order a second glove in a much plainer design. “There is so much turnover in baseball, you never know when you could get traded,” Smith said. “You never know what the team situation is going to be.”
With every player’s differing preference on design and color, there also comes a few different ways players handle the brand-new glove. Smith said some guys take the glove out of the bag and then take the field, using it as their gamer just 30 minutes later. Other guys have a much more intense process. Dansby Swanson of the Braves, for example, spends an entire year breaking in a glove before it gets promoted to the top glove. “The glove he got at camp this year will be his gamer next year,” Smith said of Swanson. “Everybody has their own process and a different way of breaking it in.”
But no matter the process, the joy of receiving a new ball glove never disappoints.
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.